Women’s Golfers Fit Right Into Success at Carnegie Mellon
Starting a new athletics program can be challenging, but the seven freshmen who make up the first intercollegiate women's golf team in Carnegie Mellon University history haven't needed long to fit right into the success and culture of Tartan Athletics.
"Everyone came in not really knowing what was going to happen," said co-captain Emma Hoskins. "We don't have upperclassmen to lead us so we started to become our own leaders."
Golf is not a sport that is widely visible on campus because the home course is a 20-minute drive, but the team wanted to let everyone know they meant business.
"We started to organize things to let people know we have a women's golf team," said Hoskins. "We took the Fence and when SAAC (Student-Athlete Advisory Council) organized the food drive, we all said we have to win this, and we did."
Taking over the Fence, the university's billboard for student groups, isn't an easy task. Located on the Cut (the grassy area of campus between Forbes Avenue and Hunt Library), the Fence must be painted in its entirety, between midnight and sunrise. Students complete their painted work and guard the fence through the night to make sure no one paints over it.
The adventure started even before midnight for this group of hard-working athletes, none of whom have a car on campus.
"A few of us took the bus to Lowe's to pick up paint," Hoskins said laughing as she fondly remembered an experience with teammates just a few short months into her collegiate career. "We were on the bus carrying six cans of paint; we had to use a shopping cart to get back to the bus stop."
The diverse group of freshmen, who hail from six different states, study in four different colleges and live in three different dorms. Hoskins, a civil and environmental engineering major, has a background in track and field, and once competed in the USA Track and Field Junior Olympics program as a long and triple jumper. Following an injury, Hoskins decided to pursue golf instead of her track and field career.
Divergent interests are part of what makes the women's golf team, and entire Carnegie Mellon community, a special place. First-year golfer Diana Zhou enjoys playing the bagpipes and even asked to practice during a van ride home from a tournament.
"We all looked at her and said, 'you're a computer science major,'" Hoskins remarked. "And she said, 'yes, but I'm taking the class for fun.'"
The differences between members of the team have actually helped bring them closer together as they study and go to events on campus together.
"We've befriended a lot of teams on campus and enjoy supporting the teams together," said Hoskins. "We huddled together in the cold at football games and have been out to a few basketball games. We've just tried to do things together since our fall season ended."
It was a whirlwind of events at the start of the year as the team had four events in a two-week stretch and all five of their golf tournaments in the month of September.
Adjusting to college classes and Western Pennsylvania golf courses was also something the team learned together.
"There are a lot of hills here," said Hoskins, a Chicago native. "Our home course has large drop offs. It is something I'm not used to but we all work hard together."
We get to a new course and everyone else has already played it but we don't even know where we're going," continued Hoskins. "We're coming into it blind with no practice round."
The lack of local course familiarity hasn't kept the team from succeeding as the Tartans have won three tournaments this season and finished second in a fourth.
"Coach Dan (Rodgers) is very competitive and draws us up maps about the course so we know what we're headed for," said Hoskins.
What's next for this team is yet to be seen, but spring break and the remainder of the season is just around the corner.
"We're really excited for Florida and we get to go with the men's team too which is nice," said Hoskins. "They've all said how fun it is. It is five days of tournament golf and then practice rounds too, so it's going to be a lot of golf in 10 days."
It'll be fun to go somewhere else and travel as a team and play some really great courses," Hoskins added.